Today is a day marked by both joy and sadness, as so much of life after loss is, particularly parenting after loss. That becomes our "new normal" doesn't it? Joy and sadness intertwined.
Today, June 24, is L's seven month birthday, and it is also Emma's due date.
I feel such joy celebrating L and the seven amazing months that we have had her here. I can't believe it has even been that long already. Every day is better than the last, and although I don't think there is any way I could love her more than I already do, each day I somehow love her more and more.
But alongside this overwhelming joy, my heart is very heavy. I remember so clearly this date two years ago. I remember sitting in the family room with my hand on my belly, wondering when my labor would start. I wondered if it would be on that day, my due date, or in the days following. I wondered how it would feel when contractions started and how Emma's birth would unfold. But I never got to feel the excitement and anxiety of labor because Emma died in my belly just 8 days later.
The stretch between Emma's due date and her birthday are hard days. I'm left looking towards this horrible day and knowing there is nothing I can do about it. All of the regrets, guilt, memories, and emotions come rushing back to the surface from where they've been hiding in the deepest parts of my heart and mind.
I'd like to think that I could spend these next 8 days focusing on the joy and light and love of Emma, and I'll try, but it's oh so hard. All I want to do is go back and change my choices, to schedule my induction sooner (among other things), which means in all likelihood Emma would be here and alive today. But then as I type that I think of my precious, beautiful, joyful Lilah napping upstairs. I know that if Emma were here Lilah would not be, and I get a panicked feeling rising in my throat as I think of life without Lilah. Thus is the paradox of parenting after loss.
The rational part of my brain fights to take back over, as I pull myself back from the guilt and regret circling around in my mind. It's times like these that I'm thankful I don't have to do this alone. I think of the verse from Psalm 55 that tells us to cast our cares on the Lord. It is so much easier to say: here Lord, please take this, it's too heavy for me. Isn't it?